Council to consider policy on social media

Following American email scandal, Mayor says city may look at the way personal social media is used

Mayor Henry Braun

Mayor Henry Braun

As the scandal continues over American politician Hillary Clinton’s use of her personal email for government business, Abbotsford city council may consider a policy on how to use email and social media.

“You will probably see, as a result of Hillary Clinton’s email escapades, that it will actually have an impact in Abbotsford and we will develop a social media policy,” said Mayor Henry Braun, who was questioned by The News about his use of his personal Facebook page.

The city has some guidelines related to how records such as emails are kept, as they can be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The city’s policy sets out that emails must be treated as either a transitory or a permanent record. Transitory is labeled as mail which is not about professional activities in the workplace or has no permanent value as a record of the city’s activities and should be regularly deleted from in-boxes, logs and folders. Permanent emails are those that make policy or strategy statements, or record city decisions or activities. Those must be regularly printed from inboxes, logs, and folders.

Currently, there is no policy for how social media is used.

Braun was asked by The News about a post on his personal Facebook page where he offered his personal email address.

Braun said someone posted allegations on his personal Facebook page about a federal organization located in Abbotsford. He provided his personal email so the person could contact him directly instead of making the accusations on Facebook, he said.

Braun added that as he was out of the country on vacation, he didn’t know whether to have the person respond to his personal email – as the comments were made on his personal Facebook – or have them use the city email as the mayor.

“I decided – rightly or wrongly – that I would give my personal email address, because the minute I put the city’s on there, I am now connecting the two.”

Braun said that as the city doesn’t have guidelines for such situations, “we probably should have a policy so that it is clear to everybody.” He added that if he is sent city-related emails on his private account, he copies them to the city so there is a record.

Braun said he had a personal Facebook and Twitter account prior to being elected mayor, but it is open to the public viewing them.

“I don’t hide anything, I don’t delete stuff unless it’s hate.”

He said that while council may consider a policy, that doesn’t mean the rest of the councillors will support it. The other side of the issue is whether creating policies related to social media hampers the free speech of councillors.

“That is where the tension and the balance is.”

Braun said he would like to see what other cities are doing to address the issue.